Hazel

Hazel is happy.

She has the best laugh. Shirley (her MIL–mother-in-law) spends untold hours thinking of ways to make Hazel laugh. She likes to hear it that much.

She not only has a great laugh, she has a great accent. You see, dear reader, she was not born here in America. She and her family were from a far away place. Her daddy slipped she and the rest of his precious family out of their country in the dead of night for the religious freedoms this great country had to offer. Hazel was knee-high to a grasshopper when they arrived here. She was a tender young teenager. She could not speak one word of English.

Shirley says Hazel is also brave. Brave in many ways. For one, she has a never-give-up spirit. Shirley and Snoot are as proud as peacocks of their second DIL. She married Ot (Shirley’s second boy) ten years ago. Hazel, her two capable brothers, her momma, daddy and friends did all the work for her wedding. Flowers, food, decorations, music, make-up, lights, candles and hair. Snoot helped too. He peeled 20 pounds of potatoes for mashed potatoes! Way to go Snoot. It was a beautiful wedding. One interesting thing Shirley noticed that she had never seen before was that most of the guests Hazel invited wore outfits that matched the colors she had picked out for her wedding. The colors were dark green and orange. It was a beautiful sight. Hazels momma looked gorgeous.

When Hazel was new here to this country, she decided she wanted to work at the local bridal shop in the town where she and her family lived. Remember, she could speak no English. She only knew how to say, “I want a job.” Well, that was all she said to the owner of that lovely shop over and over and over again. That woman could not take anymore of that pretty, annoying, persistent teenager week after long week. Hazel was hired. And that was the grand beginning for her. She learned English in no time flat. It did not take that owner long to realize the quality of gal she had in Hazel. She flourished working at that pretty shop.

She also has a great sense of humor. One funny thing she and Shirley have fun talking about it when she and Ot (Shirley’s boy) started taking a shine to one another. Hazel was still right young. Too young for Shirley’s liking to be sure. This caused a bit of upset between the three of them. And to Shirley’s great delight, Hazel left. Ot was too young too. Shirley believes mothers have an insight into the maturation of their boys. Ot was not there yet, and goodness gracious neither was that ‘little girl!’ Then a surprising thing happened. Two years later, when Hazel was twenty years old, she came back! It was then Shirley says Ot and Hazel were meant for each other. God’s design. Hazel has a lot of fun telling Shirley how much she did not like her in the beginning. She laughs a lot harder about it than Shirley does. Bless her heart.

Not too long after that they were married. It was a beautiful wedding. We already said that. It was at Ot’s granny’s farm. Hard to believe that was over ten terrific years ago. Time sure has a way of going by, don’t it?

One of the most interesting, and special things about Hazel is her love of this country, America. It has been said, “You don’t know what you got ’till its gone.” You see, dear reader, Hazel and her family never had it. But what exactly is “It?” Freedom. Freedom of religion, freedom to pursue one’s own interests, freedom to live where one wants, build as one wants, work where one wants, and speak as one wants, marry whom one wants, to name a few. Space. Have you, dear reader, ever thought about space? Your personal space? To move about as you please, visit wherever you please, stay as long as you please? Do these things ever come into your mind?

Shirley and Snoot like to be reminded of how good they, and their family have it here in America. They know that sometimes it is easy to forget all the gifts and blessings of this free country. That is why everyone in the world wants to come here, they remind themselves. Hazel always reminds them. She remembers what it was like to not have these precious freedoms.

Another feather in her cap is this; she is a Naturalized Citizen of these wonderful United States of America. She worked very hard to study and pass the test. She is a fine example to all of us that have desired to be a legal American. It is a gift and honor. Not to be taken lightly. Just ask Hazel how much effort it took on her part to earn this citizenship. Her entire family is proud like crazy of her.

She speaks beautiful English now. Though she still has a lovely accent in her pronunciations of some words. And to Shirley’s great delight she can get a big ‘ole laugh out of her for some of the weird ways the American language goes. Why wouldn’t it after all? America is a beautiful land of many peoples and cultures. This has been her timeless beauty since her beginning. It is something every American, regardless of when they earned their citizenship, should be proud of. We have all worked hard for it. To be an American is an honor and gift. Whether we just earned our citizenship, or have been here for generations matters little. What truly matters is that we have a clear understanding of the gift and responsibility of being an American. We stand for our country. We defend our country. We love our country. After all, no matter when we came—it is our country.

Shirley just knows this is one reason why Hazel is so happy. Because she remembers. She knows. It has made her strong, resilient, fun. Best of all, it has made

Hazel happy.

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